He tore his own robe off, hating the thought of it getting in the way. Then he was with her, swiftly positioning himself. She was slick and hot, exciting him even further with her readiness. Her legs locked around him, heels digging into his buttocks, urging him on. He pushed in hard and fast and barely stopped himself from climaxing at the very first thrust, just like a teenage boy experiencing the ultimate sex fit.

He sucked in a quick breath, savagely telling himself to maintain control. He tried to set up a slow, voluptuous rhythm with his hips but she wouldn’t have it, her body rocking his to go faster, faster. He felt her flesh clenching and unclenching around his and her throat emitted an incredibly sexy groan.

His head was spinning, excitement at an intense level. Her fingers dug into the nape of his neck. Her back arched from the bed. He felt the first spasm of her coming and was unable to hold off his own release any longer. He cried out as it burst from him in violent shudders, and the flood of heat from both of them was so ecstatically satisfying he was totally dazed by the depth of feeling.

He’d collapsed on top of her. She held him in a tightly possessive hug. Was she feeling the same? He had to know. Had to know if all the bad stuff from the past had been wiped out of her mind. He levered himself up on his elbows to see her face. Her eyes were closed, her head thrown back, her lips slightly apart, sucking in air and slowly releasing it.

‘Look at me, Christina,’ he gruffly commanded.

Her long lashes flicked up. Her eyes were dilated, out of focus. A thrill of triumph ran riot through Ari’s mind. She was still feeling him inside her, revelling in the sheer depth of sensation. It gave him a surge of confidence that she wouldn’t walk away from this—what they could have together. The glazed look slowly cleared. Her tongue slid out and licked her lips. He was tempted to flick his own tongue over them, but that would start them kissing again and this moment would be swallowed up and he wouldn’t know what it meant to her.

‘This is now, Christina,’ he said with passionate fervour. ‘The past is gone. This is now and you’re feeling good with me. Tell me that you are.’

‘Yes.’ The word hissed out on a long sigh. She half-smiled as she added, ‘I’m feeling good.’

He nodded. ‘So am I. And I truly believe we can always make each other feel good if the will is there to do it.’ He lifted a hand to stroke the soft black bangs of hair away from her forehead, his eyes boring into hers to enforce direct mental contact with her. ‘We can be great partners in every sense there is, starting now, Christina. We look ahead, not back. Okay?’

There was no instant response but her eyes didn’t disengage from his. Their focus sharpened and he had the feeling she was trying to search his soul. He had nothing to hide, yet he was acutely conscious of tension building inside him as he waited for her answer.

He’d hurt her in the past and she’d nursed that hurt for years. It had erupted in his face tonight and he was asking her to let it go, leave it behind them. It was a big ask. He recalled the look of heart-piercing vulnerability he’d seen after they’d made the sex-deal last night. But he’d just proved she had nothing to fear from an intimate connection with him. She’d conceded he’d made her feel good.

He willed her to grasp what could be grasped and take it into the future with them. It was best for their son, best for their lives, too. Surely she could see that.

‘Have you had the prenuptial agreement you offered me drawn up, Ari?’

It wasn’t what he wanted to hear from her. It meant that it didn’t matter what he said or did, she still had a basic mistrust of how he would deal with her in the future. He could pleasure her all night but that verbal kick in the gut told him it would make no difference.

‘Yes. It’s in my backpack,’ he said flatly.

‘Have you signed it?’

‘Not yet.’

‘Will you do so in the morning if … if you’re still feeling good with me?’

‘Yes,’ he said unequivocally, though hating the fact it was still necessary in her mind.

She hadn’t faked her response to him. There was nothing fake about Christina Savalas and it was clear that she needed a guarantee that if there was anything fake about him, she would not lose her son by marrying him.

She reached up and gently stroked his cheek. ‘I’m sorry I can’t feel more secure with you, Ari. I promise you to do my best to be a partner to you in every sense. If I fail and you end up finding someone else who suits you better, I won’t deny you a fair share of Theo. I just need protection against your taking him from me.’

‘I’d never do that,’ he protested vehemently. ‘You’re his mother. He loves you.’

She heaved a deep sigh as though that claim meant little in the bigger scheme of things. ‘It’s impossible to know how things will turn out along the track,’ she said in a fatalistic tone. ‘As sincere as your commitment might be to me now, as sincere as mine is to you, it’s in our minds, Ari, not our hearts, and you might not think so now, but hearts can over-rule minds. I know. It’s why I never told you about Theo when I should have. My heart wouldn’t let me.’

There was sadness in her eyes—the sadness of betrayed innocence—and Ari knew he’d done that to her. Determination welled up in him to replace it with joy—joy in him and the children they would have together.

‘Our marriage will be fine, Christina,’ he promised her. ‘I don’t mind signing the prenuptial agreement. I want you to feel secure, not frightened of anything. And given more time, I hope you’ll come to trust me, knowing without a doubt that I mean you well and want you to be happy with me.’

It brought a smile back to her face. ‘That would be good, Ari.’ Her hand slid up and curled around his head. ‘I could do with some more of feeling good.’

He laughed and kissed her.

The night was still young. They proceeded to a more languorous love-making for a while, pleasuring each other with kisses and caresses. It delighted Ari that Christina had no inhibitions about her sexuality and no hesitation in exploring his. He hoped it would always be like this, no holding back on anything.

The commitment was made now.

Ari felt right about it—more right than he’d ever felt about anything else in his life. And he’d make it right for Christina, too. It would take more than a night to do it. It might take quite a long while. But he was now assured of all the time he would need to wipe out her doubts and win her trust. When that day came—he smiled to himself—all of life would be good.

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